Born in Brisbane, Australia, Sally Clarke began her musical career with violin at the age of 11; one year later she took up the viola as well, in order to play chamber music. She graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Music, Honours, degree (and various prizes and distinctions), performing with diverse chamber music groups and as soloist with various orchestras, such as the Queensland Youth Orchestra, on its 1986 New Zealand Tour. A German Government Scholarship (DAAD) enabled her to further her studies with Professor Rainer Moog in Cologne; thereafter she attended the Herbert-von-Karajan Akademie in Berlin, performing regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1988 she was Principal Viola with the Schleswig Holstein Festival Orchestra, under the baton of Sergiu Celibidache, from whose mentoring she benefitted greatly. Chamber music and solo performances have taken Sally to many places in Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Russia. She has participated in various festivals, including those of Townsville and Bangalow, Australia, and in September 2009 the biennial “German Festival” of Krasnodar. In 2014 she made a guest appearance at the World Harp Festival in Sydney.
Sally Clarke’s recordings for CD and radio include the rarely performed Sonatas for Viola and Piano by Luigi von Kunits, Wilhelm Killmayer, and Paul Juon. Josef Rheinberger’s Klavierquartet op. 38 is available on Thorofon; “another sort of fire”, featuring works by contemporary women composers, is available through Bayer Records. Her great interest is expanding traditional “classical” approaches, through “Cross-over” projects involving oriental music, or live dance-theatre.
In 2009 she founded the trio “Blue Ayre”, together with Cynthia Oppermann, harp, and Veronika Fuchs, flute. The trio has performed in South Germany, France and Australia; their CD “Blue Ayre” was released early 2013, and features works by Debussy, Bax, Bartok and a specially commissioned work by Cynthia’s husband, the Celtic (and experimental) harpist Rüdiger Oppermann. Blue Ayre is also available on iTunes.
Sally has taught at various workshops and masterclasses, notably in Ochsenhausen, or in front of 200 high school students at the Sydney Conservatorium High School, or anywhere in the world via Skype. Her teaching style has been described as particularly empowering and practical; she has worked extensively with orchestral musicians (also a concertmistress!), on viola and violin, seeking to prepare for auditions or just reboot their technique. She believes that miraculous improvement can happen, if the person involved is open to change.
A full-time member of the Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart since 1992, Sally is now also a member of the highly acclaimed Australian World Orchestra. She has appeared with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and performs often with Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt.
Sally teaches and performs at “Das SommerMusikFest” each year, and otherwise lives with two lovely and very patient children in Karlsruhe, Germany.